F1 - ROC: Romain Grosjean crowned ’Champion of Champions’
After beating Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen
French Formula 1 star Romain Grosjean put in a stunning performance to eclipse 15a fellow superstars of motorsport and win the Race Of Champions on an evening of thrills at Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium.
Grosjean overcame Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen in the best-of-three Grand Final to become Champion of Champions for the first time. Kristensen, who also reached the final last year, was chasing his own first individual Race Of Champions title at the 12th attempt. But he was thwarted by the young Frenchman, who won both heats to seal glory.
Following Team Germany’s victory in last night’s ROC Nations Cup, the Race Of Champions pitted many of the biggest names in motorsport against each other in head-to-head combat in a variety of different cars.
Michael Schumacher seemed to be continuing where he left off last night as he went undefeated until the semi-final stage. There he came up against an inspired Grosjean and his quest for the individual ROC title faltered again. Schumacher’s fellow F1 old- timer David Coulthard was beaten by Kristensen in the other semi-final.
After sharing in Schumacher’s success last night, 2012 F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel was eliminated in the individual quarter-finals for the second year in a row, also by Grosjean. Facing a tight battle, Vettel made a mistake and hit the barrier hard.
Another big scalp at the quarter-final stage was last year’s Champion of Champions Sébastien Ogier, beaten by Kristensen in a reverse of the result of last year’s Grand Final. Coulthard defeated China’s Ho-Pin Tung while Schumacher overcame 500cc MotoGP legend Mick Doohan in the other quarter-finals.
To start the evening the drivers were split into four groups of four, battling for the right to line up in the knockout stages.
Reigning champion Ogier began in dominant fashion, taking three wins out of three in Group A. Coulthard also progressed thanks to his two wins against V8 Supercar king Jamie Whincup and Production World Rally Champion Benito Guerra. Whincup beat Guerra but neither driver made it any further.
Tung was the surprise package of Group B. After falling to an initial defeat against touring car great Andy Priaulx, the Chinese driver recovered to top the group, beating Kristensen and home favourite Nattavude Charoensukawattana. The Thai prompted
one of the night’s biggest cheers when he defeated Priaulx, meaning the last quarter- final berth was decided by a shootout between Kristensen and Priaulx. That went to the Dane when a mechanical problem sent Priaulx into the barriers.
Vettel made a predictably strong start, romping to three wins out of three including a victory 2012 MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo. Group C also included another legend of two wheels in Doohan, who defeated Lorenzo in their heat. The Thai crowd went wild as Tin Sritrai beat Lorenzo and crossed the line ahead of Doohan, only to miss out on qualification due to a time penalty.
Schumacher and Grosjean both progressed comfortably from Group D – but it was the German who came out on top this time to keep his undefeated record intact with three wins to Grosjean’s two. 2012 IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay took a single victory against Kazuya Ohshima, Japan’s qualifier from ROC Asia, but it wasn’t enough to keep the American in the competition.